LinkedIn has become arguably today’s most valuable job searching tool, providing it’s users with endless possibilities for networking, connecting with colleagues from the past, and promoting and developing their businesses. But did you ever stop and think that the way in which you use LinkedIn could actually hurt your job search prospects?  Well it can!  Folllow the following tips to avoid damaging your personal brand with your LinkedIn profile.

  1. Set up your profile correctly!  If you’re unsure how – surf around and see how other people are doing it.  Make sure your profile is close to 100% filled out (LinkedIn mesaures this for you).  And make sure that it matches your resume – you don’t want to have different things listed that might show you being less than honest about your background.  Also – make sure you filled out your profile form correctly. Almost daily I see people who accidentally put their last name in the first name box!
  2. Pick the right pic!  Your profile picture should be as close to a professional headshot as possible, with a plain(ish) background and your complete head filling the little box. Don’t be Mr. Tiny Head, Miss Grainy Webcam, or Mrs. Zombie Face. Many employers are going to pull up your LinkedIn profile – so this may be the first time they see what you look like.  Represent yourself well!
  3. Don’t try and connect with people you don’t know!  Most people I know that use LinkedIn are selective about to whom they connect. My personal rule is that I have to have had a conversation with you at least once. If you’re interested in a job at a company – don’t try to add the job poster to your network. You could send them a short note through LinkedIn, but I’d leave it at that.
  4. Don’t be a LION!  A LION is a “Linked In Open Networker”, meaning they will connect with anyone and everyone. Some of these people boast loudly in their profiles about being a LION and how many connections they have.  There is no value in having such an extensive network when you don’t really know the people in it. It’s essentially like taking names and numbers out of the yellow pages to add them to your Rolodex.
  5. Request introductions appropriately!  One of the best things about LinkedIn is that you can request to be introduced to people you are not connected to through people to whom you are already connected.  The way it works is your click on “request an introduction” and send a message to your connection asking for their help, and if they want to help they can forward it to the person to whom you want to be introduced.  But, people often don’t realize that your original message to your connection gets forwarded along to the person you want to connect to.  So make sure your initial message is highly professional.

As I’ve said in almost all of my posts, every little detail matters when it comes to job search and protecting your personal brand, and your LinkedIn profile is no different. Such public forums are easily accessible, and will be looked at. Put in the effort and you’ll reap the rewards.